Sydney FC "has received an instant boost from its signing of Italian football great Alessandro Del Piero," with huge numbers of fans logging on to its ticketing websites and fan forums on Thursday, according to the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The interest was "so great" that the A-League club extended its deadline for club membership renewals by 48 hours, "hoping to cash in" on Del Piero's arrival and recoup some of the reported A$4M ($4.1M) it will pay the Italian over two seasons. Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said that Del Piero's signing would "boost the A-League's global image and accelerate the growth of the competition." Buckley: "Undoubtedly, this signing will have an immediate impact on attendances, membership, TV ratings and corporate support for the club and the A-League" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/6). In Sydney, Sebastian Hassett reported that with Del Piero's "coveted signature secured" Sydney will embark on "an audacious plan to double their crowds and sign 10,000 members." Averaging an 11,816 crowd from 14 matches last season, the Sky Blues' execs now believe "they can now break through an average crowd of 20,000." Although "ambitious as that all seems, a string of inviting fixtures awaits" that could attract crowds up 25,000, as long as the Sky Blues are winning. Del Piero's first home game will be against Newcastle on Oct. 13 and "is sure to bank a 30,000 crowd, and there is already talk it could be far higher" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9/7).
EXCITEMENT ALL AROUND: Also in Sydney, Peter Kogoy wrote Del Piero's decision to sign with Sydney "was a way of wanting to give something back to the game." Del Piero said, "It is also about a new jersey, a new league, a new life and a new everything. I want to leave a legacy." The 37-year-old believes "he still has plenty to offer the game in Australia." Del Piero: "I'm old, but not enough to remember what it was like for a Pelé at the New York Cosmos. Like Pelé, I too want to create something special in my time in Sydney" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/6). The enthusiasm shared amongst Sydney fans has been reflected in a number of Australian newspapers. A headline from The Sydney Morning Herald read: "Ciao! $4m Del Piero signs for two years." The Australian: "It's true, Del Piero signed, sealed." The Herald Sun: "Fans clamouring to watch Alessandro Del Piero in action for Sydney FC" (SBD Global).
West Ham United Co-Owner David Gold revealed that as many as 17 Premier League teams are "in favor of introducing financial control measures" in an effort to prevent football's richest league from operating with losses, according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Representatives from the EPL's 20 clubs met in London on Thursday to "discuss the possibility of adding rules requiring fiscal restraint." After the meeting at the Bloomsbury Hotel, Gold said, "I think that there are 14 clubs that are ready for change. I think there are more. I think there are as many as 17 clubs." The EPL's top teams have record revenue but "much of it is spent on players’ salaries," and according to the most recent filings, 12 clubs operated at a loss (BLOOMBERG, 9/6).
ULTERIOR MOTIVES: In London, Chris Wheeler reported ManU is "behind plans for tighter financial controls" on Premier League clubs that would limit the spending power of rivals such as Man City. When they were put forward in June, the club's proposals "received widespread support." Wigan Chair Dave Whelan supports the idea, even though he "suspects it might be partly motivated" by the increased threats posed by Man City. Whelan: "This proposal has come from Manchester United -- I think City haven shaken them up a little bit -- but I think there should be some controls on spending" (DAILY MAIL, 9/5).
TAKING CONTROL: In Manchester, Rob Dawson reported that the EPL's top execs have "produced a discussion paper on financial controls" for the 20 Premier League chairmen to consider. The proposal could lead to teams being "forced to break even every year or risk facing penalties." This would be a "serious blow" to teams like Man City and Chelsea, who consistently return significant losses. According to the latest published accounts in '11, Man City had a loss of £197M, Chelsea £68M, while ManU made a £12M profit (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 9/6). The PA's James Cann reported that Real Madrid Coach José Mourinho is "ready to embrace UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules and has warned the new breed of cash-rich clubs that difficult times may lie ahead." Real Madrid, founded 110 years ago, has enjoyed domestic and continental success rivaled "only by Catalan outfit Barcelona and a handful of other clubs." Mourinho believes that Real's heritage, and that of other European giants, will protect his club from "any negative repercussions when the new regulations are applied." Mourinho: "You can't buy that with money. The titles, the European Cups, the history, the fanbase. You can't achieve these things just by spending money" (PA, 9/6). THESCORE.ie reported that UEFA President Michel Platini has given 27 clubs a deadline to "make sure they adhere to Financial Fair Play rules." Platini said, "The next check on Sept. 30 will be vital. For clubs who can't follow the rules of the Fianncial Fair Play system, it is over and out of Europe" (THESCORE.ie, 9/2).